If you have sadly lost your rabbit, it is tough to deal with. In addition to feeling sad, you’ll have practical considerations to take care of. Chances are you will want to bury them in your yard, but there are various factors to be aware of before you do this, as well as other options available to you.
So, how do you dispose of a dead rabbit in your yard? Your main options for disposing of a rabbit in your yard are either burial, cremation, or an incineration service done by your local vet or animal shelter. However, you need to check which methods are legal in your area for disposing of the body. Different states have varying laws which you must comply with.
Different states have varying laws because some states have to fight active cases of infection among dead animals.
And it is essential to avoid transmitting diseases to other animals.
Let us now walk through how to know and find out whether it is legal in your area, before turning to all of your main disposal options in greater detail, with ideas on how to do it.
So stick around; you’ll be sure to give your bunny the best send-off if you do!
Is It Okay To Dispose Of A Rabbit In Your Yard?
Whether or not it is okay to bury your rabbit in your yard depends on two factors; that you are sure they have died and you are legally permitted to do so.
Ensure Your Rabbit Has Died
It isn’t always obvious when a rabbit has died. Some bunnies who are ill or older can appear to be dead when they’re actually just inactive.
Check your rabbit’s vital signs to see if they have died by checking the following:
- Your bunny’s breathing. Hold your finger just in front of their mouth and nose to check.
- Your rabbit’s pulse. A bunny’s pulse is most easily found on their inner thigh, just above their femoral artery.
- Any urgent defecation. Bunnies will usually empty their bowels when they die.
- Capillary refill. In a rabbit, this should be 2 seconds. To check, press your finger against your bunny’s gums. Take your finger away and see how long it takes for the pink color to return.
It is crucial to be absolutely sure that your rabbit has died before you start making arrangements.
In freezing temperatures, rabbits can go into hibernation (you want to avoid this by keeping them warm indoors!)
Many owners have thought their rabbit died of cold, only to find they have ‘risen from the dead’ once they’re brought inside!
Check If It’s Legal In Your Area
You will need to check what your local laws are concerning the burial of dead animals.
Ask your vet, or search for your state laws and their requirements.
And if you live within a community, for example, one under a Homeowners Association, you will want to check with their rules.
If you are unsure, contact them to see if you can bury your pet in your yard.
Those states that allow you to bury your pet in your yard will have a minimum depth for the grave, usually around 3 to 5 feet deep.
This is to ensure your pet’s resting place will be respected, and that other animals won’t be able to smell your bunny to dig up the body.
A deep grave also helps prevent environmental damage to the grave.
If you wish to use a container of some kind, be sure to avoid plastic bags which pollute the earth, taking many years to decompose, if at all. The best option is a biodegradable material such as wood or cardboard.
Some states – such as Arkansas at the time of this writing – require pet owners to cremate or otherwise dispose of their pet’s body within 12 hours of death.
Arkansas laws do not currently allow the burial of a pet in your yard.
Other states – such as Delaware – will say that you are allowed to bury your pet in your yard, provided the grave is far enough away from a water source.
Several states will not allow you to bury your pet in your yard if your pet has died of an infectious disease. You may wish to check with your vet anyway to understand why your bunny has died.
Rabbits can die from disease, old age, malnutrition, dehydration, or fright.
It isn’t always easy to know how your bunny has died, but your vet will probably have a fairly good idea.
They should at least be able to rule out any infectious diseases which could affect whether you can bury your friend’s body in your yard or not.
Options When Disposing Of A Dead Rabbit in Your Yard
There are a few options when disposing of a dead rabbit in your yard.
Burying Your Rabbit’s Body
For a burial, make sure you do this quickly before the body starts to decompose.
Insects and other critters quickly sense when there’s an animal’s body around.
Check your local laws to know how deep and where you can bury your friend, taking into account sources of water, etc.
Before you start digging, have your local utility company come out to mark any buried cables or lines so that you don’t run into problems when digging the hole.
In addition to the obvious tools of a shovel and a small box or urn for your friend, make sure you use gloves and wear a face mask.
Seal the container tightly before burying it, and dig a nice, deep hole.
The deeper the hole, the fewer the number of animals who will be able to smell the body.
If you don’t bury your bunny’s body correctly, you may be attracting coyotes or other wild animals to your yard.
Burying Your Rabbit’s Ashes
You could have your rabbit cremated and then bury the ashes in your yard, perhaps putting them in an urn or a wooden box first.
If your area allows you to burn trash and organic material, you can probably cremate your dead rabbit yourself.
However, if you don’t wish to, have your vet contact the local cremation service. You can then bury the ashes afterward.
Some people want their friend’s body to contribute to the cycle of life by putting it in the compost.
Check your local laws to see if you can use this method.
You need a large compost bin to dispose of your friend’s body – small compost bins will only attract pests.
If you don’t have a large container for compost, you can contact your local farm. Some local farms are willing to compost dead animals.
While this option probably won’t appeal to most of you reading, this is certainly one of the easiest options.
You’ll have to check what your local laws are, as some areas allow trash disposal and others don’t.
If you decide to put the body in the trash, you’ll need to do it close to the collection date.
You can’t have a dead animal sitting out in the trash for a long period of time. If the collection date isn’t for a few days, you can place the body in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer (away from food!) until you can dispose of it. You can put the bag inside a box if you wish as a makeshift coffin.
Some areas may require you to label the bag or box for disposal.
Larger areas often have a designated part of the sanitation department that helps dispose of dead animals.
Check with your local sanitation department. They may or may not charge a fee for this service.
Using A Professional Service
You can opt for a professional service where someone will come to your home to collect the body and dispose of it legally.
This could be a good option if you find it upsetting or difficult to do this yourself.
You can find these kinds of services through the local branch of your animal services, or through your local vet.
There is a fee for these services, but generally, the fees don’t tend to be too high for small animals.
Some vets will also offer a communal cremation, although you won’t receive your friend’s ashes in those cases.
Other Ways To Dispose Of Your Dead Rabbit
If you decide or find out you cannot safely dispose of your rabbit in your yard then you will need to look into other alternatives. The following are the best ones to consider.
If your state doesn’t allow you to bury your friend in your yard, you can use the services of your local pet cemetery.
These cemeteries are only for animals, and you will be able to visit your friend as often as you wish once they are buried there.
Cremation is becoming a very popular option, though it does come with a price tag.
Check with your local animal clinic or vet, as they usually work together with a local cremation service.
The cremation service can offer you various receptacles to contain your pet’s ashes, such as a cedar box or an urn.
The average cremation cost can come in at anywhere between $75 to $200, but ask your vet for your options.
A remembrance stone is a clever way to keep your pet’s memory alive without having to bury them in your yard.
This type of stone can be created using your pet’s ashes which are infused into the stone.
You can then place your remembrance stone in a special place in your yard.
Your local clinic can advise you about remembrance stones, as can your local cremation service.
Footprints (or Pawprints)
You can press your bunny’s feet into a clay circle that will keep your friend’s prints forever, which you can then place wherever you like.
This option is great because you can keep their prints indoors or outdoors, and you can take them with you easily if you move at a later date.
You can create this yourself or ask your vet to create one for you.
As you can see, you are not short of options when it comes to disposing of your rabbit; either within your yard or elsewhere, for that matter.
That being said there is a lot to take into consideration for each option.
While legality is one thing, how you want to send your rabbit off is another.
If you have young kids then a burial might be more fitting than trash disposal, for instance.
Either way, look at your options, find out what is practically viable, make any calls, and do have a think about it.
Just be sure your rabbit is placed in a safe, protected place while you do and don’t leave it too long!
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.